UNDECLARED? HERE ARE 5 TIPS FOR SELECTING A COLLEGE MAJOR
Do you feel like all of your fellow students seem to have a solid career plan and are plugging away at their major courses? Here's a list of tips, for students currently without a major or for those who are not sure they are in the "right" major, that will help guide you toward a timely degree completion.
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Hi there! I’m Jennifer Forshey, one of the Coordinators for Academic Support Services in the Academic & Career Advising Center (ACAC) on NMU’s campus. One of the major focuses of my job is centralized student advising. We work very closely with incoming freshman students all the way through their first year at NMU. During this time we meet no less than two times, one-on-one, with each advisee assigned to us.
The great thing is that we advise ALL majors on campus so are well versed in the options available to NMU’s students. There are a lot to choose from and when you aren’t sure about a career path that list can be daunting.
I’d like to share with you some tips and tricks to narrow down a major and choose the best path forward for yourself, because let’s be honest, while it would be nice for our parents, teachers, and advisers to tell us what we should be when we “grow up,” truly that decision is ultimately up to ONLY YOU!
1. Visit the ACAC and talk to your adviser
If you are an undeclared student you should have an assigned adviser from our department, reach out directly to that person and set up a time to meet! Our office is conveniently and centrally located in 3302 Hedgcock. As advisers, we are here to provide you with the information needed to make an informed decision. Our office offers walk-in availability to all students Monday-Friday 8am-5pm (7:30am-4:00pm during the summer). Keep in mind that we meet with ALL levels of students and we are a great option for those of you who may not be sure you are in the “right” major. We can further assist you by discussing your currently completed credits and how they will apply to any other majors that you may be considering. It's always good to meet with an academic adviser to confirm your academic plan. Missing a course in sequence can potentially keep you an additional semester, which is added cost.
2. Complete the FOCUS 2 Assessment
The FOCUS 2 Assessment is an online tool is a career and education decision-making model that helps you select majors and make informed career decisions. This tool includes five assessments that can be combined to discover majors and occupations that match your personal attributes including: Work Interest, Values, Personality, Skills and Leisure. The great thing is it is available to ALL NMU students and after completion will connect you to specific majors we have on campus that will align with any/all career matches that you make! This is also very helpful to us as advisers so we can go over your results together and work through the major options with you!
3. Attend the Majors Expo in October
Each year I organize the NMU Majors Expo, which brings together representatives from all majors on campus in a “fair” type format. This event is normally held during career week in early October. We set up in a centralized location, the main floor of Lydia M. Olson Library. Each department on campus sends faculty members and/or department heads to be available to students for approximately two to three hours. While advisers can help you narrow down a major, the faculty are the experts in their field and can answer any and all specific questions you have about career opportunities in that major!
4. Connect with faculty on campus
It is very important to begin cultivating relationships with your department’s faculty members. Even when undeclared, you can reach out to faculty members of the majors that you may be interested in. Come prepared with career questions so you can see what opportunities are out there for students who graduate with that degree! A first-time meeting with a professor on campus can be intimidating, I know it was for me, so it may be helpful to come up with some questions while you are working with an ACAC adviser.
5. Utilize your General Education requirements as major exploration courses
NMU offers a comprehensive list of courses in each of the General Education requirement categories. If you are considering a major, the introductory course for that major may also count as a graduation requirement. Some examples of this would be PSY 100 – Intro to Psychology, CJ 110 - Introduction to Criminal Justice, GC 101 – Introduction to Environmental Science or BI 111 – Introductory Biology. This way even if you aren’t ready to commit to a major or decide against pursuing that path you are still completing requirements toward graduation.
Deciding on a college major can be one of the biggest decisions of your life because you will be committing to a career goal and spending a lot of time, effort, and cost toward that goal. The amazing thing is that NMU has a lot of support to help guide you through the process. As an adviser at NMU, my value is found in the satisfaction of every student who steps through my door. As an undecided undergraduate student myself who changed her major at least 5 times I know what that uncertainty feels like. Use this list as a guide and please come visit us in the ACAC, we are here to help!